First Impressions: Team Liquid
From forever fourth to a seemingly Worlds potential team in just one off-season. Team Liquid, formerly branded as one of the most known teams in the League of Legends scene, Curse has gone from what was once a long running joke of being just good enough to be a bridesmaid, but never getting invited to the biggest wedding of the year, to being hyped as a prospect for the number one spot in North America with a name change and an addition of Piglet from former SKT T1 fame, as well as a highly mechanically inclined mid laner in Fenix, who still has a lot to prove in addition to the former LMQ (Now TiP) coach PtotheD.
Although we haven't had a chance to see the long awaited Hamlet lane, a potential contender to the long-time dominating Rush Hour of CLG as well as the once under appreciated bottom lane of Cloud 9 in Sneaky and LemonNation, the Piglet/Xpecial bot lane may be a bot lane to be reckoned with on an international stage. While no one quite knows what to expect from them, a strong showing from Xpecial and substitute player KeithMCBrief from Liquid Academy has left a strong taste in the mouth of their opponents thus far in the very short time they had in the current LCS split. With the impressive first game the duo lane had in their first match in the season against the now branded TiP, KeithMCBrief had an extremely good debut match going 6-1-11 against the veteran Apollo and the rookie support AdrianxKelsey. Xpecial had proven his dominance as a contender for the top North American support player, with an impressive 0-0-16 performance. In their latest game against Counter Logic Gaming, they made a splash as Keith was able to rack up a scoreline of 9-1-12 compared to the legendary Doublelift's KDA of 4-3-8. Xpecial played a huge role for Team Liquid in this match as well, playing the seemingly back in the meta Annie support, landing and engaging with the patented area of effect Tibber's stuns as well as impressive zoning of the Counter Logic team. KeithMCBrief, under the wing of Xpecial, was able to rack up an overall KDA of 19 over his first two games of his career, while Xpecial was able to maintain an impressive 10.5 KDA in his first series of this LCS split. Many are wondering what this Piglet and Xpecial lane can bring to the table, after seeing this dominating performance from Liquid and their substitute ADC. Many have pegged them as the future number one bottom lane in the NA LCS, but we'll have to wait until next week to see just how good they are.
Fenix, the successor to the iconic Curse mid laner Voyboy showcased his ability to play both a utility mid lane champion with Lulu, as well as a highly mechanical champion in Azir. While Fenix has yet to prove himself throughout an entire LCS split, he had a great showing against the argued number two mid laner in TiP's XiaoWeiXiao, as well as Counter Logic Gaming's inconsistent veteran, Link, who had an amazing first game of the season against Team 8. In his debut game against TiP, he was able to rack up a humble KDA of 3.4 as one of the main pieces of Team Liquid's very successful protect the Keith composition. He was able to showcase his ability to pick and choose the best targets for teamfight ensuring ultimate knockups as well as great zoning and peeling ability as the utility champion. He did however, make a very impressive showing as the residential emperor of Shurima, Azir. He ended up with a great KDA of 4.0 as he dominated the CLG veteran, Link in lane, and continued to apply sustained pressure in teamfights and sieges throughout the entire second game of week one. Fenix has left some people wondering just how good he can get, and if he'll be able to fill the shoes left by Voyboy, and I personally have no doubts that he can be the mid lane presence that this team has been looking for.
We move on to Team Liquids rock in the top lane, Quas. Quas solidified himself in the 2014 Summer split as one of the best top laners in the North American LCS when he led the top lane overall KDA. Quas really broke out of his shell to most fans in his amazing playoff matches on the fresh out of Korean bootcamp CLG team, where he absolute dominated and took ahold of the game as Nidalee. The question for this split, however, seems to be the role he'll play for this Liquid team. Will we see him switch carry roles off and on with Fenix? Quas has shown an absolute dominance over whatever champions become meta during each patch. He's shown that he can be the carry that Liquid needs, as well as the tank that would even make Dyrus proud. Quas has already shown us this season that like Fenix, he can play what the team needs him to. After a rough initial early to mid game as Renekton in game one, he became the tanky, back line diving machine that Liquid was looking for in their protect the Keith comp, ending the game with a fantastic 6 KDA. He came back with even more reassurance as he was allowed to pick the cute until angered fuzzball, Gnar. He utilized great teleports and map awareness in order to take a normally poor matchup against Irelia, to snowball himself as well as his team as Gnar. His utilization of Gnar's ultimate turned team fights in their favor, as well as almost guaranteeing Liquid team fight wins. He had another impressive end of game KDA with a 4.33, which left him just above a 5.0 for the week. With the assumption that Quas can continue to be the rock in the top lane Liquid needs, I'd say that they don't have to worry about snowballed enemy top laners.
Now, for our final player. IWillDominate, one of, if not the most aggressive jungler in the entire NA LCS. Dominate's time on Curse was very inconsistent as his aggression would sometimes work for the best, which was showcased in some games like the games against CLG last summer split, where he would absolutely manhandle former World's jungler Dexter. On the other hand, there were also games where his aggression would cause him to fall flat and fall far behind, which may have cost his game the team. This first week's showing however, has reassured all fans that his aggressive playstyle is here to stay, and he may finally be more consistent in his aggression. IWD's first game of the season was absolute magnificent as shown in his Nunu play. The constant aggression in the jungle, as well as absolutely gorgeous zoning from his Absolute Zero reflected in the Liquid win, as well as in his fantastic 19 KDA for that game. Fantasy LCS fans were absolutely ecstatic with his performance. He came back just as strong in the second game of the week against Counter Logic Gaming, ending the game with an 11 KDA, rounding him out to a 15 for the week. If IWD is able to keep this up, he may be a contender for the best jungler in the NA LCS if Cloud 9's Meteos is unable to pull out of his team's current 2 game loss, slump.
My first impression of the newly branded Team Liquid is absolutely a phenomenal one. If PtotheDs coaching ability is able to pay off, this team has more than enough talent to show that their old Curse has worn off, and take the number one spot from last split's number one team, TSM. This team has all of the keys to a World's caliber team, in their fantastic bot lane, aggression calculating jungler, their mechanically gifted rookie mid laner and their rock in the top lane. Time will tell how they end up this split, but I think I can speak for both fans and non-fans when I say that this will absolutely be THE team to watch for the upcoming year.